Posts Tagged ‘Hunter Shea’

I’m a bit late with my 2017 list as the first month of 2018 is just about over (seriously, where did this year go?), but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. There is always a staggering amount of great horror books released every year, but this year felt like it was a really high mark for horror fiction. I’m already anticipating a ton of 2018 releases, so I have a feeling I will be saying the same thing next year!

This list is by no means exhaustive of all the books out there, some I was unfortunately unable to get to in time to include on this list. However, of the works I did get to read, these were among my favorites. There are a lot of books on here that appeared on numerous other lists, but I think you may find a few new selections and I hope that you will check them out and find something you enjoy. I also wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m so glad to be a part of the horror community. I have met so many great people through running The Horror Bookshelf that I talk to fairly regularly and other than talking about the books I love, it makes all the time that goes into writing posts totally worth it. I hope to meet more fellow bloggers and writers and to be more engaged in 2018. Now that I got all of my rambling out of the way, allow me to introduce you to my Favorite Reads of 2017!

Novels

1. Josh Malerman – Black Mad Wheel

Leading off my list of favorite reads for the year is Malerman’s stellar Black Mad Wheel. I have been a fan of Malerman’s ever since discovering his debut Bird Box, which was highly original and one of my favorite novels of the past few years. Black Mad Wheel follows Detroit-based rock band The Danes as they attempt to track down the source of a mysterious and extremely dangerous sound emanating from an African desert. Malerman’s characterization is top-notch and his experience as a musician is what makes The Danes come alive. Throw in a mystery that compels you to journey deeper into the desert with the Danes and you have a compulsively readable novel that shows why Malerman is quickly becoming a favorite among horror fans.

2. Jonathan Janz  – Exorcist Falls

Exorcist Falls is the sequel to Janz’s novella Exorcist Road, which was originally released through Samhain Horror and appears in print again in this Sinister Grin edition. Exorcist Falls kicks off with the original novella, which is great for people like me that missed Exorcist Road the first time around or those who wish to re-read it to experience the story as a whole. Exorcist Falls draws inspiration from the towering classics that started America’s fascination with possession stories William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Legion and starts with a quote from The Exorcist. I could go on for hours about how much I loved Exorcist Falls (and almost did in my review), but I will sum it up by saying Janz conjures up some truly diabolical evil in this novel and it features some of the most bone chilling scenes I have read in a possession story. This is right up there with Children of the Dark for my favorite Janz novel.

3. Ronald MalfiBone White

Ronald Malfi consistently puts out great novels and if you are a regular follower of The Horror Bookshelf, it should come as no surprise to see Malfi’s name near the top of my list. Last year The Night Parade was my top book of the year and really struck a chord in me especially as a new father. Bone White is a novel that stuck with me, but for far more sinister reasons. Bone White follows Paul Gallo as he ventures into the Alaskan wilderness to a town called Dread’s Hand in hopes of finding out the truth of what happened to his twin brother who went missing over a year ago. What he finds is a town that is superstitious and wary of outsiders, but that is only the start of a strange and dangerous journey that will alter Gallo’s life forever. Malfi steadily builds tension and fear throughout the course of Bone White which seeps into your bones and makes for a thrilling read. The remote Alaskan setting is perfect for story and Malfi utilizes that sense of isolation masterfully, so by the time you discover the crosses in the woods, you are creeped out beyond words. I recommend this novel at any time of the year, but this is a perfect read if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and find yourself snowed in. Bone White is a stunning novel athat has me looking forward to Malfi’s next work.

4. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason – Those Who Follow

Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason – who go by the nickname The Sisters of Slaughter- burst onto the scene last year with Mayan Blue, their Stoker nominated debut that took readers on a bloody trip into the Mayan underworld. Mayan Blue was a blast to read and ended up in my top 10 last year and I mentioned in my review that I couldn’t wait to see what they came up with next. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long as they released their sophomore novel Those Who Follow over the summer. I just squeezed this one in prior to starting this list and I am so glad I did. As much as I loved Mayan Blue, the Sisters of Slaughter have taken their writing to another level with Those Who Follow. This novel is dark and brutal, featuring a villain that relishes the torment and horror he inflicts on his victims. If you like your horror a little more on the extreme side, definitely add this one to your collection.

5. Paul KaneBefore

Before is one of three stellar novels released this year from Grey Matter Press. This was my first time reading Kane’s work and I was totally enthralled by the sprawling world he created in Before. I don’t want to delve too much into the novel as I have a more in-depth review in the works, but Before follows college professor Alex Webber who attempts to decipher the visions that plague him and avoid crossing paths with a being known as The Infinity. This is an engrossing novel that will appeal not only horror fans, but fans of other genres as well. Before is impressive in scope and the characters are excellent. I love the contrast of a seemingly average man going up against a force that wields a staggering power. Excellent novel and I can’t wait to dive into Kane’s other works, particularly Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell!

6. J. Danielle DornThe Devil’s Call

The Devil’s Call is the debut novel from J Danielle Dorn, who I was surprised to learn was a local author. The novel comes from Inkshares, who is a publisher definitely on the rise as they have released this one and A God in the Shed from J-F. Dubeau (which I haven’t read yet, but is sitting in my TBR pile). The Devil’s Call is an interesting mash-up of the horror and Western genres set in 1859. Li Lian Callahan witnesses the brutal murder of her husband Dr. Matthew Callahan while carrying their first child. Little does this band of men know, they are dealing with a powerful witch that travels from Nebraska to Louisiana to the Badlands in order to bring her husband’s killers to justice by any means possible. I went into this one fairly blind and was blown away by Dorn’s gift for storytelling. Normally I’m not a huge fan of Western’s, but there was something magical about this one that kept me riveted right from the beginning. Dorn’s decision to have the narrative reflect Li Lian writing to her unborn daughter was a risky one, but she pulls it off flawlessly. Li Lian is probably my favorite character from this year along with Trixie from Chad Stroup’s Secrets of the Weird, which appears later on this list. Outstanding characterization and a fresh twist on the revenge tale, Dorn is writer worth following and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

7. Hunter SheaWe Are Always Watching

Hunter Shea is another longtime favorite of The Horror Bookshelf and 2017 was a great year for Shea fans which saw the release of 2 novels and 4 novellas. We Are Always Watching is loosely based on a true story and follows West Ridley as he and his family move from New York to their grandfather’s rundown farm. Almost as soon as they move in, weird this begin happening around the farmhouse but the threats become all too real as Wes wakes up one day to see the words “WE SEE YOU” scrawled into his ceiling. As the danger beings to pile up, West must sift through long-held secrets and find a way to expose the mysterious Guardians once and for all. The paranoia Shea conjures up by having these events plague the family’s home is what makes this novel so good. A bit more “quiet” horror than readers are used to from Hunter, but it is refreshing and ranks pretty high up on my list of favorite Hunter Shea novels.

8. Ania AhlbornThe Devil Crept In

What makes The Devil Crept In such an engaging read is the originality of the premise. Throughout the novel, Ahlborn makes readers question just what exactly is happening in the woods of Deer Valley. There are hints scattered throughout this seemingly sleepy small town that something isn’t right, but you can’t quite place your finger on it. That nagging sense of mystery is part of the fun of this novel. Out of all the crazy ideas that ran through my head – cobbled together from years of reading horror novels and watching horror films – the truth behind what happened to Jude never crossed my mind. The Devil Crept In is another stellar offering from a gifted storyteller. An original premise, vivid characters and a great sense of atmosphere (not to mention some truly unnerving scenes) all mesh together to create a thrilling reading experience. If you haven’t read any of Ahlborn’s work yet, I highly recommend grabbing at least one of her books. I have a feeling once you read one, you’ll be hooked, just like I was!

9. J.D. BarkerThe Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey is more of a psychological thriller, but it mines the same dark depths of the human psyche for inspiration that Forsaken did, making it a must read for fans of both genres. The Fourth Monkey is being described as Se7en meets The Silence of the Lambs and that is a pretty accurate comparison. This is a chilling thriller that is compulsively readable and offers up plenty of twists and turns, hinting at a very interesting future for characters in this book. While I hope for a continuation of Forsaken, I am loving Barker’s journey into the thriller genre and can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

10. Karen RungeSeeing Double

Seeing Double is Karen Runge’s debut novel, coming from one of the best horror publishers around Grey Matter Press. This was one of the novels I was really looking forward to this year as I have been impressed with Runge’s writing ever since I read her story “Hope is Here” in the outstanding anthology Suspended in Dusk, which was edited by Simon Dewar. After that I was hooked, looking out for her short stories whenever they appeared in an anthology and then fully cementing myself as a life-long fan when I read her brilliant debut collection Seven Sins. While her talent is on evident display in her standalone stories, this collection is incredibly impressive and showcases her willingness to take risks with her stories and there were a few that utilized interesting formatting (layouts? structure?) that only added more power to her words. Needless to say when I caught wind of her debut novel Seeing Double, I could barely contain my excitement.

Seeing Double is a character driven piece and Runge expertly breathes life into these characters, which is important because there is a heavy psychological element to this story. Stories that depend on this sort of psychological tension and issues live and die on the strength of the author’s abilities to create realistic characters and Runge accomplishes that with ease. I have to applaud Runge for the rich layers and complexity of her narrative in Seeing Double, a novel that is sure to establish Runge as a force in the genre.

11. Chad StroupSecrets of the Weird

Chad Stroup’s Secrets of The Weird is a novel that has drawn comparisons to Clive Barker’s darker fantasy work, but honestly, defies easy description. Secrets of the Weird doesn’t exactly follow a linear approach in terms of the narrative of the story, but it works extremely well and enhances the story and allows for a vivid and personal look into the life of the main character Trixie. It alternates between the present (which if I remember correctly, is like 1991 or 1992 in the novel) and Trixie’s Diary entries from the late ’80s. Not only does the timeline remain fluid throughout much of the story, the point of view often switches between Trixie, members of the Civilized Cannibals, the Angelghoul and a few others. Stroup’s Secrets of the Weird is a wildly imaginative novel that is a must read for any dark fiction fan that is looking for something a little different. There is no denying Stroup is a talented new voice and his outstanding character development and willingness to experiment within the horror and fantasy genres have definitely made me a fan. I look forward to following Stroup’s future work and highly recommend grabbing a copy of this brilliant debut novel.

12. Glenn RolfeBecoming

I’ve been a huge fan of Glenn Rolfe’s work ever since I discovered his chilling debut The Haunted Halls. From there I devoured all of his books from Samhain. Becoming is an absolute blast, drawing from 80s horror movies, particularly creature features. Rolfe’s adrenaline-fueled style leads to an action packed story from start to finish. After the collapse of Samhain, I was worried it would be awhile before getting anything new from Rolfe. I was happy to be proven wrong. Rolfe has a few things in the works (a collection called Land of Bones and a novella called Follow Me Down) coming this year. If you haven’t read any of his books before, now is a perfect time to get started.

13. Russell JamesCavern of the Damned

James’ Cavern of the Damned is a fun read that delivers both adventure and horror in spades. The characters go up against giant, deadly prehistoric creatures all while trapped in a cave with virtually no weapons. Once I started this book, there was no putting it down until I reached the last page. I had a very minor issue with one of the subplots, but aside from that, Cavern of the Damned was a blast to to read. I could be wrong, but I think recently I saw that James said there was a sequel in the works. I hope that there are many more books to come in this series, I think he could do some really cool things with the idea developed in Cavern of the Damned.

14. Brian Fatah SteeleThere is a Darkness in Every Room

Steele’s novel is one that i think was severely underrated this year. Anyone who knows me or follows this blog knows about my borderline unhealthy obsession about UFOs and aliens and that is initially what drew me to Steele’s book. While Steele mixes in enough of “traditional” alien elements, he also injects a special blend of evil and madness that creates a unique and oftentimes bleak cosmic horror piece. Steele is a talented writer and luckily he announced an upcoming project through Bloodshot Books, so it shouldn’t be long until readers can get their hands on more of his stuff.

15. Catherine CavendishWrath of the Ancients

This was my first novel from Catherine Cavendish and I’m kicking myself for not checking out her work earlier. Cavendish offers up an atmospheric gothic horror tale that effortlessly blends together history and the supernatural to create an unsettling horror story that will appeal to almost any horror fan. While leaning a bit more toward quiet horror territory, there are plenty of hair-raising scenes draw from the steadily growing dread Cavendish creates over the course of Wrath of the Ancients. I’m definitely a fan and can’t wait to dive into some of her other works. This one is listed as Nemesis of the Gods #1, so I’m hoping there is more to come from this line even if they are only loosely connected.

Novella

1. Kealan Patrick Burke Blanky

Blanky focuses on Steve Brannigan, who is struggling to keep his life together after the tragic death of his infant daughter. He is estranged from his wife after the grief they both felt in the aftermath placed a strain on their marriage that drove them apart. Burke holds nothing back and starts Blanky with Steve giving a heartbreaking account of what it’s like to lose a child. Then Burke throws readers right into the story with one simple line, “That was the beginning of the end of my world. This is the rest of it.” Blanky is a devastating novella that utilizes emotion, atmosphere and outstanding characterization to create a truly haunting story. I remember when I read the synopsis, I knew this story was going to hit me hard. I’m a new parent and I couldn’t imagine a more terrifying scenario than the one Steve and Lex face in Blanky. Burke did not disappoint as Blanky messed with my emotions and kept me glued to the pages, reading it in a single sitting and feeling like I took a sucker punch to the gut. If you’re looking to start discovering Burke’s work, this is a good place to start.

2. Ania AhlbornI Call Upon Thee

I’ve already gone over my love of Ania Ahlborn’s work more times than I can count, so I will jump right into I Call Upon Thee. This novella from Ahlborn follows Maggie as she returns to her childhood following a family tragedy. Maggie had a normal childhood for the most part until an innocent act as a child invited an evil from the local cemetery into her life that has refused to ever leave since. Maggie realizes she must confront her past in an attempt to vanquish the evil that has been responsible for so much heartache and tragedy, but it will not be an easy fight. When I originally read this, I was struck by its resemblance to my favorite Ahlborn novel The Bird Eater. It is its own unique story, but carries some of the same emotional undertones as that novel and that is probably why this one is probably the “1B” to The Bird Eater’s “1A” status. While Ahlborn conjures up some of her scariest scenes in I Call Upon Thee, it is the familial relationships that serve as the heart of this novel. A lean, mean story that proves why Ahlborn is one of my favorite storytellers.

3. Hunter SheaSavage Jungle

Hunter Shea has created numerous excellent horror novels that vary in topic, but there is no denying he is the king of cryptid novels. His stories that focus on infamous cryptids are always some of my most anticipated reads because they are high-octane reads that never lost their intensity from start to finish. It’s also evident that Shea shares my passion and interest in cryptid lore and he pours every bit of his extensive knowledge into these tales and then ratchets up the terror as high as possible. Savage Jungle has all of those hallmark traits and just when I thought this story couldn’t get any more insane (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible), Shea annihilates my expectations. For those who loved following the McQueen twins on their quest for revenge in Loch Ness Revenge, they will love this follow-up that finds them once again teaming up with their friend Henrik on his own personal vendetta. This time they trio venture into the depths of the Sumatran jungle in search of the Orang Pendek, but what they encounter is beyond their wildest dreams. There are other dangerous things waiting for them in the jungle and it takes every ounce of will power and weaponry to have a shot at escaping in one piece. This was another stellar entry into Shea’s body of work and a perfect example of why I will read anything he puts out, no questions asked.

Honorable Mention: Hunter SheaFury of the Orcas

I didn’t want to rank this one because it’s dedicated to me, but I’ll be damned if I don’t mention it in some capacity. Shea’s latest novella offering takes a look at what would happen if Orca whales suddenly went on the warpath and needless to say, the results aren’t pretty. This story is vintage Hunter Shea, full of absolute mayhem and tense scenes that will have you on the edge of your seat. If you haven’t already, snag a copy of this one from Severed Press. You can thank me later.

Anthologies/Collections

1. Josh MalermanGoblin

Goblin is a set of six novellas that all take place in the strange town of Goblin, where it is seemingly always raining and you definitely don’t want to cross paths with the ominous police force that seems to be made up of men who are a little…off. I don’t want to get too much into the novellas that make up Goblin as I am working on a pretty extensive review, but I was amazed at the way Malerman was able to give each one its own style and tone. Despite each novella being its own contained story, they all fit together neatly to form one cohesive whole. Goblin is a town that is filled with a dark history and bizarre events that will unsettle most horror fans, but despite the oddness and danger that is seemingly lurking below the surface, you won’t want to leave Malerman’s creation. There is no denying Malerman creativity and with this collection it really allows him to stretch his talents and the end result is six fantastic novellas and a town that will cement itself right alongside King’s Castle Rock and Derry.

2. Ed Erdelac – Angler in Darkness

I first heard about this collection of novellas from Shane Keene of Shotgun Logic and his recommendations are always golden, so I decided to check out this collection from Ed Erdelac. Angler in Darkness is his first collection of short fiction that spans over a decade and let me just say….why the hell aren’t more people talking about his work?! Erdelac’s prose is simply outstanding and he displays that in every single one of Angler in Darkness’ 18 stories. There is not a single lull in this collection and one of the things I love about Erdelac’s work is that he mixes in history and isn’t afraid to take on different eras for his settings. He also mines folklore and legends from other cultures, so each story is a breath of fresh air as he avoids most of the topics horror fans are already familiar with. Seriously, if you haven’t read anything by Erdelac yet, you need this collection. I will definitely be going back and checking out his novels, I have Andersonville waiting on my Kindle and am excited to check it out.

3. Garden of Fiends

A brilliant and original concept, Garden of Fiends captures the struggles of addiction and the horrors they inflict on those affected by it. Yes, it is dark and visceral, but with moments of hope throughout that make this a memorable collection of stories. Matthews’ has put together something truly special with Garden of Fiends and this is a must-read anthology for any horror fan. Featuring stories from Kealan Patrick Burke, Jessica McHugh, Max Booth III, Johann Thorsson, John F.D. Taff, Glen Krisch, Mark Matthews and Jack Ketchum.

4. Todd KeislingUgly Little Things

One of my earliest reviews for The Horror Bookshelf was Keisling’s Ugly Little Things – Volume One and I remember being completely absorbed by the wonderfully weird stories contained within that made me think of The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits. This release contains some of those stories as well as some of the newer ones I had missed. It has almost been 3 years since I first read these stories and upon my second read through, they still pack the same punch as when I initially devoured these stories. It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but the one that sticks with me the most is “Saving Granny From The Devil”. It’s a visceral and emotionally engaging story, the perfect blend of the sort of horrible things we go through in real life and the supernatural. It is a semi-autobiographical tale and the honesty Keisling shows here is probably why this one continues to stick with me years later. Then to top things off, it contains the brilliant novella The Final Reconciliation, which I read for the first time this year. This story follows the tribulations faced by The Yellow Kings after they meet up with the mysterious Camilla, who promises to deliver The Yellow Kings the success they are looking for. However, her help doesn’t come without strings attached. The Final Reconciliation made it to the preliminary ballot stage of this year’s Stoker Awards and if there is any justice, it will be on the final ballot as well. An essential addition to your library and my anticipation to read his upcoming work, Devil’s Creek, is off the charts.

5. Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi – BREATHE. BREATHE. 

A tireless champion of horror fiction, Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi breaks into the genre with her debut collection BREATHE. BREATHE. Her dark and vivid poetry and short stories will be sure to delight fans of dark fiction. What impressed me the most about Al-Mehairi’s work is the emotional power behind not just the poetry, but the stories as well. “Dandelion Yellow” is a heart-wrenching story that will haunt you long after you finish reading it. I had read it twice, once in the limited chapbook and then later in the extended ebook version, and each time it hit me like a ton of bricks. Another one of my favorites was “Destination: Valhalla Lane Loveless, Ohio”. This one had a really cool format that takes you into the households of a few couples on Valhalla Lane. I don’t want to spoil it for those who have yet to read it, but these little stories within the story all tie together and I thought the structure was an excellent choice and an intriguing plot. The story stands strong as is, but I would love to see this concept fleshed out into a longer piece. This is a strong debut effort and I can’t wait to see what other stories Al-Mehairi has up her sleeve!

Special Mention

Grady Hendrix with Will ErricksonPaperbacks from Hell

This book gets its own section because it was the only horror based nonfiction book I read this year (which I want to change that for 2018), but also because it is just that damn good. My review of Paperbacks from Hell is the entry right below this one if you’re interested in learning more about it, but the short version is that this is a book that needs to be on every horror fiction fan’s bookshelf. It’s an incredible book and I hope that there is another volume or similar project in the works, but that’s mainly because I’m greedy and need more!

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BOOK INFO

Length: 378

Publisher: Pinnacle

Release Date: August 30, 2016

Review copy provided as part of The Jersey Devil Blog Tour

It’s no secret that Hunter Shea is one of my favorite horror writers working today. I have raved about all of his books and I think part of what draws me to them is the fact that Hunter is also a huge fan of the genre. He is a lover of all things horror and has a fascination with cryptids that rivals my own. Every time I read one of his books – whether they be about cryptids, ghosts, or anything else really – I am reminded of why I love horror and I get the same feeling of excitement I got when I first started getting into horror and the weird world of the unexplained. This time around Shea tackles a cryptid that is near and dear to my heart, The Jersey Devil. I didn’t live in New Jersey, but growing up I lived close enough that The Jersey Devil legend was one of the first I discovered right after the big two – Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster.

The short version of the legend basically goes that a Pine Barrens resident named Momma Leeds gave birth to 12 children and when she was found out she was pregnant for the 13th time, cursed the child and said it would be the Devil. When the child was born, it transformed into a bizarre creature that varies in appearance depending on who you hear the story from. The Jersey Devil is a well-known folklore story that has ingrained itself in the fabric of the state and community that spawned it and was one that always fascinated me.

The Jersey Devil starts off with a bang as readers are introduced to Jane Moreland, a women whose husband has just died and she is frantically trying to get rid of the body. Her husband Henry was abusive and after putting up with years of torment and fantasizing about all of the ways she could kill him and be free of him for good. That’s all they were though were fantasies, so she was beyond shocked when a drunken accident and Henry’s own temper proved to be his demise.  Unable to call the cops – all of whom were friends with Henry – her only choice is to try and dispose of his body in the Pine Barrens. Worrying about how she will be able to deal with the aftermath of Henry’s accident, she hears a blood-curdling screech rip through the Barrens. Something is growling, stalking her in the inky darkness of the night. Whatever it is swoops down and carries the 200 lb Henry off into the trees. Jane barely escapes with her life after partially burying herself. Moments from freedom, Jane realizes there really was something horrible hiding in the Barrens.

Present Day

Sam Willet  – known to his family as Boompa – is 80-years-old and tough as nails. Despite his age, he is a formidably imposing figure and has the strength and stamina of a man half his age. He lost his wife tragically ten years ago and her death fueled his vendetta against the creature known as The Jersey Devil. Boompa has been chasing the elusive beast for years, but he knows that with every passing year, his time is running out. The monster has plagued the Willet family for 3 generations, though it has kept a low profile for decades. However, there have been a massive increase in sightings and disappearances that cause the family to get excited. After years of training and an all consuming desire for revenge, The Willet family team up with cryptozoologist Norm Cranston and march into the desolate Pine Barrens armed to the teeth in search of a monster that defies the laws of nature.

Shea does an excellent job juggling a large cast of characters by giving them all very distinct personalities and back stories.  Boompa is hands down one of my favorite of the Willet clan. While Boompa is old enough to be considered by many as elderly, he is still an imposing figure who is bursting with vitality and a determination that is almost infectious. After suffering numerous tragedies and coming face to face with something that defies all logic, he is chomping at the bit to confront an evil that would send most normal people running for the hills. While Boompa is tough as nails, there are some great interactions with his grandson Daryl early in the novel that are indicative of his sense of humor and shows how close he is with his family.

Norm Cranston is another key figure in The Jersey Devil. He’s 42-years-old and a world famous cryptozoologist, who just got back from tracking a Bigfoot-esque beast in Ohio known as the Grassman. Despite gaining a level of notoriety and popularity from being featured on countless cable shows, he lives modestly and alone with his cat Salem. He has been friends with Sam Willet for years after a chance encounter after filming an episode about big cats in New York and is aware of his story involving the Jersey Devil. After stumbling across two sightings in as many weeks, Norm knows he has to get in touch with Sam as there is something brewing in the Pine Barrens that could be huge for both of them.

Shea does a great job portraying Norm’s introduction into the field after his dad shared his own personal account of a Bigfoot encounter while he went hunting. This caused a young Norm to dive headfirst into the world of cryptids, reading every book he could get his hands on from the library. I absolutely loved Norm’s character because it kind of reminds me of myself. Growing up I had the same sort of wonder over cryptids and would read every book that I could find from my local library. That sense of wonder and fascination of the unknown that Norm displays in the novel is the same I felt growing up, so I was instantly drawn to his character.

The way Shea portrays the locals talking about the Jersey Devil in the novel is realistic and kind of representative of communities that have their own unique legends. When two minor characters who are looking to cash in on the legend to run camping tours ask locals for some key spots pertaining to the legend, they get the sense that everyone buys in to the legend. Some even go as far as begging them to stop searching for the hideous creature that calls the Pine Barrens its home. While not everyone may actually believe there is an evil creature hiding out in the Pine Barrens, it is important to note that many people take pride in local tradition. Even if they don’t believe it’s true, a part of them likes to keep the story alive.

One of the things that helps bring this novel to life is Shea’s excellent description of the Pine Barrens. I have never seen them myself, but Shea makes them come to life and gives them an eerie, unsettling power that helps fuel the tension of the novel and amplify the terror of the creature that could be lurking in the dense trees. Sparsely populated, dark and vast, they are the perfect setting for something to hide and for people to leave bodies. Shea even dedicates a short chapter to making the Barrens seem alive, vines and vegetation growing rapidly to hide the vehicles of some poor victims that fell prey to the mythical beast that calls the Barrens home.

I love the way Shea handles the big reveal of the Jersey Devil in his book. He doesn’t let readers get a real good look at the creature early in the book, but instead utilizes small fleeting moments that build up the anticipation and make the big reveal that much of a better pay off. It starts with sounds – growls, shrieks, and flapping of wings – then slowly builds as the attacks escalate due to the Jersey Devil getting more brazen. What started off as a few hit and run style attacks become more frequent and the Jersey Devil starts allowing itself  to be seen, which is a drastic change from its original behavior, along with its taste for blood.

I love that Hunter sticks with the traditional look of this famous cryptid. The Jersey Devil is portrayed as being about the size of a grown man with an appearance that looks like a hybrid of a horse and goat with a whip-like tail and large leathery wings. Honestly, if you were to look up a sketch of what The Jersey Devil looks like based on eyewitness testimony, you would be tempted to laugh. Hell, I almost did the first time I did. The Jersey Devil is a creature with larger than life name and reputation that brings to mind some kind of hulking beast, but the reality is, it looks almost cartoonish. However, there is nothing funny about Shea’s Jersey Devil. While it borrows from the traditional look, Shea manages to warp this creature into something truly frightening and capable of unimaginable chaos and carnage. It also isn’t just some mindless monster, it possesses an intelligence that far surpasses anything they thought it was capable.

What makes The Jersey Devil such a great novel is the care Shea shows in the research behind the legend. Well, that and tons of gruesome, frightening scenes that are guaranteed to keep your adrenaline pumping for almost the entire novel. While Shea has shown quite a bit of range in his writing and has tackled numerous different subjects, I have always thought he was at his best when tackling cryptids. He has already tackled The Montauk Monster, skunk apes, and The Dover Demon just to name a few. Just like with all of those books, they would be fantastic reads for lovers of the bizarre and unknown, but Shea always adds his own touches that make the story that much better. I don’t want to get too much into how Shea differentiates his version of the Jersey Devil mythos because I feel that would ruin a portion of the story, but he manages to take the traditional legend and amplify it to terrifying heights.

This was one of my most anticipated books of last year and it ended up being one of my favorite reads of the year as well. Shea is an excellent storyteller who manages to draw readers in almost instantly and never let go throughout the entire journey. Every time I pick up one of Hunter Shea’s works , I know I am in for a wild thrill-ride. I have read just about everything Hunter has released and one thing I can say is that I am never bored. He knows how to keep readers wanting more and has mastered the art of pacing and The Jersey Devil is no exception. There is plenty of action, bone-chilling scenes and horrific beasts throughout. If you are a fan of cryptids or prefer monsters with your horror, you can’t go wrong with this one!

If you are a Hunter fan, stay tuned in the coming weeks as I will have reviews coming for Loch Ness Revenge and We Are Always Watching! I have a ton of other reviews in the works as well and then I look forward to tackling Shea’s latest Savage Jungle.

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Kensington/Pinnacle Official Website

Purchase The Jersey Devil: Amazon, Barnes & Noble,or grab a copy from your favorite bookstore!  

The Jersey Devil Synopsis

THE LEGEND LIVES

Everyone knows the legend of the Jersey Devil. Some believe it is an abomination of nature, a hybrid winged beast from hell that stalks the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey searching for prey. Others believe it is a hoax, a campfire story designed to scare children. But one man knows the truth…

THE DEVIL AWAKES

Sixty years ago, Boompa Willet came face to face with the Devil—and lived to tell the tale. Now, the creature’s stomping grounds are alive once again with strange sightings, disappearances, and worse. After all these years, Boompa must return to the Barrens, not to prove the legend is real but to wipe it off the face of the earth…

THE BEAST MUST DIE

It’ll take more than just courage to defeat the Devil. It will take four generations of the Willet clan, a lifetime of survivalist training, and all the firepower they can carry. But timing is critical. A summer music festival has attracted crowds of teenagers. The woods are filled with tender young prey. But this time, the Devil is not alone. The evil has grown into an unholy horde of mutant monstrosities. And hell has come home to New Jersey…

Praise for Hunter Shea

“Shea delivers a tense and intriguing work of escalating tension splattered with a clever, extensive cast of bystanders turned victims…An otherwise excellent, tightly delivered plot…Fans of cryptid creatures are likely to revel in this love letter to a legendary menace.”– Publishers Weekly

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at http://www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

I am a bit late with my 2016 list as the first month of 2017 is just about over, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2016 was a slow year for The Horror Bookshelf and I didn’t hit any of my goals that I made this time last year, but it was for a happy reason! The last few months of 2016 were some of the happiest in my life as my wife and I had our first child. The blog has slowed down considerably, but I do not plan on closing The Horror Bookshelf. I fell a bit behind, but I plan on starting 2017 off catching up on some reviews I owe and then hopefully getting back into a normal routine. I have met so many great people through this blog and it would take forever to name everyone, but I want to thank all of my friends, authors, and readers for sticking with me and offering me encouragement and support. My main goal for this site has always been to have fun, interact with other horror fans, and give back to the authors whose art has inspired me and helped me through some rough patches. That goal remains the same and I hope I can continue the blog for many more years.

Being that I fell a bit behind, some of the books featured here haven’t had their full reviews run yet, but they are on the way. I still want to recognize the authors and their works for helping make 2016 an incredible year for this horror fan. Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2016. I decided to go with a Top 15 for novels, a Top 10 for novellas and a Top 5 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

Novels

1. Ronald Malfi The Night Parade 

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2. John C. Foster Mister White 

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3. Kristopher Rufty Desolation 

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4. Jonathan Janz Children of the Dark

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5. Justin Cronin The City of Mirrors

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6. Damien Angelica Walters Paper Tigers

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7. Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason Mayan Blue

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8. D. Alexander Ward Beneath Ash & Bone

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9. Hunter Shea The Jersey Devil

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10. Joe Hill The Fireman

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11. Kristin Dearborn Stolen Away

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12. Robert E. Dunn A Living Grave

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13. Stephen Kozeniewski Hunter of the Dead

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14. Joe Schwartz Stabco

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15. John Quick Consequences

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Novellas

1. Adam Howe Tijuana Donkey Showdown

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2. Glenn Rolfe Chasing Ghosts

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3. Josh Malerman A House At The Bottom of a Lake

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4. Mark Matthews All Smoke Rises

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5. Robert E. Dunn Motorman

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6. John F.D. Taff The Desolated Orchard

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7. Kristin Dearborn Woman in White

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9. David Bernstein Blue Demon

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10. Lucas Mangum Mania

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Anthologies and Collections

1. I Can Taste The Blood

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2. Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories

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3. Richard Thomas Tribulations

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4. Brian Moreland Blood Sacrifices

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5. Glenn Rolfe Out of Range

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BOOK INFO

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Length: 104 Pages

Release Date: April 12, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour for I Kill in Peace

Longtime readers of The Horror Bookshelf know that I am a huge fan of Hunter Shea’s books, so when I was asked to be on the blog tour for I Kill in Peace, I jumped at the chance! I remember reading Hunter’s blog posts about this novella back in February and hearing him describe it as something different and that he was worried certain parts might get the axe. Now, as a horror fan, hearing stuff like that sent my anticipation for  I Kill in Peace into overdrive! As for it being different, I wasn’t worried about that in the slightest. I know that every time I get my hands on a copy of Hunter’s work, no matter what it is about, I am going to going on one hell of an adventure!

Peter Blades is an everyday average family man. He has a beautiful wife and daughter he loves and a steady job. His life seems to be going well until the day he begins getting mysterious messages from a person known only as “AO”. The first interaction with AO happens with an instant message from AO warning Peter that he will lose his job at the end of the work day. Peter initially shrugs off the message thinking the message was meant for someone else. However, when AO uses his name and keeps sending him messages, Peter thinks it is a co-worker playing a sick joke on him. However, he is shaken when he is called to Marcellus Hanson’s office at the end of the day and  laid off. How did this AO know what was going to happen to him well before it actually happened? After being let go, Peter continues receiving messages from AO and they carry a sinister message – ordering him to kill his boss.

Peter tries his best to ignore the messages, but they keep popping up on his phone, his computer and even his iPad. Every time Peter thinks about ignoring AO, he is crippled by intense pain and visions of fire until he surrenders to the will of AO. On his way to his first mission, he is provided a brand new red Mustang and AO is able to speak to him through the car’s Bluetooth capabilities. When he arrives at Hanson’s house, AO tells Peter to check the backseat and it is there Peter finds his weapon – an ancient sword that gives him a swagger to carry out the killings. Although he is shaken to the core by his first murder, when he gets home, he shares a passionate moment with his wife and momentarily forgets his guilt.

Just when it seems like Peter has escaped AO, the messages start rolling in again and Peter is tasked with carrying out AO’s murderous orders. While Peter struggles with the guilt of killing random people at first, Peter quickly finds that he needs to keep killing in order to feel fulfilled. Meanwhile, as Peter keeps getting new missions from AO, there are reports of strange events popping up all over the country. As Peter’s life begins spiraling out of control, he begins to question if AO is real or if this is all part of his mind slowly coming unraveled.

I Kill in Peace is a bit of a departure for Shea, but it is an excellent novella that keeps you hooked from the first page. While Hunter has tackled everything from ghosts and cryptids to an apocalyptic scenario, this novella is a very unique take on the slasher genre. Everything about Peter screams normal, he is the last person you would expect to pick up a sword and go on a crazed killing spree. Not only that, it isn’t like he harbors some sort of inner darkness or that he uses his appearance as a camouflage. He truly is a harmless person who is driven to commit these brutal acts of vengeance due to the whims of the mysterious AO. He is also unable to confess his crimes or attempt to take any responsibility, which makes this stand out from your standard slasher story. I don’t want to give too much away on why he is unable to take responsibility, but it is a pretty clever style choice that helped add another level of mystery to Peter and his relationship to AO.

The other thing that makes this novella interesting is the common thread that links Peter’s victims. Each person that AO orders Peter to kill has done horrible things to other people. I don’t want to give too much away about what these people have done, but the official synopsis does state that one of them was a would-be school shooter. This makes the novella interesting because of how it toys with the emotions of Peter and the readers. It is horrifying that Peter is able to go from mild-mannered “everyman” to homicidal vigilante almost as soon as he picks up the sword. What makes Peter’s predicament interesting is the fact that these people all have a sinister streak in their daily lives that goes unnoticed. Peter feels guilty for committing these murders and he struggles with the decision to confess his crimes and risk losing everything he cares about, but at the same time, he tries to rationalize his actions with the fact that these people have done some truly awful things.

The mystery surrounding AO really drew me into this story and it drove me crazy trying to figure out who it was. AO is seemingly able to predict the future with eerie accuracy when they tell Peter of his firing hours before it happens. That in and of itself could lead to a variety of different possibilities a disgruntled co-worker seeking to cause havoc in Peter’s life or his best friend playing a practical joke on him. However, as the novella progresses and the body count begins to stack up, the possibilities of who AO is are endless. I will admit that for a fleeting second, when AO began speaking to Peter through the Bluetooth in the Mustang, I thought it was going to be some sort of murderous version of Kitt from Knight Rider or an homage to Stephen King’s Christine.

What makes the mystery of AO’s true identity so great is that Shea leaves clues throughout the entire novella. The events of I Kill in Peace are so damn entertaining though, that I blasted right by them. When I got to the end and finally fit all the pieces of the puzzle together, I was kicking myself for not figuring it out sooner, but it made the ending of the novella that much more enjoyable. I also realize that I am probably the only person that will care about this, but I think it is awesome that Peter drives a Chevy Lumina. My very first car was a red ’92 Lumina and man did seeing that name bring back some nostalgia for me!

I Kill in Peace delivers a fast-paced narrative that offers copious amounts of blood, mystery and mayhem that will make this a fun read for any horror fan and gets my highest recommendation. Hunter has already released two top-notch novellas for 2016 with They Rise and now I Kill in Peace, so I can’t wait to check out The Jersey Devil near the end of the summer!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase I Kill in Peace: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

I Kill In Peace tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about I Kill in Peace! – #IKillInPeace #HunterShea #evilancientswords

I Kill in Peace Synopsis

Killing gets easier…with practice. 

Peter Blades is, in every sense of the word, an ordinary man. Hard worker, father, husband, a man content with small-town life. Except for one small fact—he’s slowly being turned into a ruthless killer.

Compelled by mysterious texts to murder, he’s provided a fiery red Mustang and an ancient sword to carry out an ever-growing hit list. His jerkoff boss is victim number one. You always remember your first.

By the time his sword sings through the air to dispatch a would-be school shooter, taking lives is as easy as breathing. And if the world is going to hell around him, all the better. No one wants to burn alone.

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea 2

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

I am a bit late with my 2015 as the first month of 2016 is rapidly coming to a close, but I still wanted to take a minute and share some of my favorite reads from this year. 2015 was a great year here at The Horror Bookshelf. The blog celebrated its one year anniversary back in April, I made some great friends, I got to take part in SFSignal’s Mind Meld feature and I had the honor of premiering a brand new story from Glenn Rolfe.

I never really made a post for The Horror Bookshelf’s first anniversary, so I wanted to just take a minute and touch on a few things before getting to my list of favorite reads for the year. I started this blog as my way of giving back to the extremely talented writers who have created the books I enjoy reading and connecting with other horror fans. In that respect, I think the first year of The Horror Bookshelf was a huge success. I am so thankful for all of the writers and publishers who reached out to me and offered me review copies and words of encouragement along the way. Without you and the books you spend so much time crafting, The Horror Bookshelf would not exist. I also want to thank anyone who has ever taken the time to read any of my reviews, interviews or guest posts. There is no greater feeling as a reviewer than introducing someone to a potentially new favorite author or a great book and I hope that by visiting this site, you have found a few.

There are so many people to thank for helping this blog become what it is today, but I wanted to take a moment to thank a few special people who have shown me a humbling amount of support since the very beginning. A huge thank you to my friends and family, Tony and Sharon at Grey Matter Press, John F.D. Taff, David Spell, Mark Matthews, Dale Elster and Erin Sweet Al-Mehairi. You have all offered me so much support and tons of encouragement when The Horror Bookshelf was getting off the ground and I will always be grateful for that. I also want to thank my beautiful wife for encouraging me to follow my dreams and for giving me that boost of confidence I need when I feel like I can’t possibly keep everything going.

I am not usually big on New Year’s Resolutions, but what the hell, I came up with some for The Horror Bookshelf anyway.

1. Read more in 2016 – This one is fairly vague and for anyone that runs a review site, it sounds borderline crazy. I read a ton of great novels in 2016, but one of my biggest regrets was that I didn’t read that many novellas, short stories or anthologies this year. I hope to change that in 2016 and also to increase the amount of novels I read in a year.

2. Get more organized – I am notorious for my poor organizational habits, but I have already made some progress by using a planner (that my wife made me buy) to help me keep track of all my upcoming reviews, interviews and features. This may be the most mundane and boring resolution of the list, but it is an underrated part of keeping a review site going in my opinion.

3. Keeping the site updated more frequently – This may be the biggest challenge of them all. I am the only writer on The Horror Bookshelf and the amount of reviews I have going at any given time can be overwhelming, but I want to set a modest goal – starting in February – of posting at least once a week. Sort of on the same topic, if I owe you a review and have not posted it yet, I promise I haven’t forgotten! I appreciate every author that sends me a book for review and sometimes time gets away from me, but I promise I will get to them soon.

Here is a list of my favorite reads from 2015. I decided to go with a Top 10 for novels, a Top 5 for novellas and a Top 3 for Anthologies and Collections. Thanks for sticking with me this far and I hope you find some great new reads on this list!

1 . Brian Kirk We Are Monsters (Samhain Horror)

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2. Richard Thomas Disintegration (Random House Alibi)

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3. Ronald Malfi Little Girls (Kensington)

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4. Ania Ahlborn Behind These Walls (Gallery Books)

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5. Hunter Shea Tortures of the Damned (Kensington/Pinnacle)

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6. Jonathan Janz Wolf Land (Samhain Horror)

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7. D. Alexander Ward Blood Savages (Necro Publications)

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8. Russell James Q Island (Samhain Horror)

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9. Glenn Rolfe Blood and Rain (Samhain Horror)

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10. Kristopher Rufty Jagger (Sinister Grin Press)

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Novellas

1. John F.D. Taff The Sunken Cathedral (Grey Matter Press)

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2. Kealan Patrick Burke Sour Candy (Self-published)

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3. Glenn Rolfe Abram’s Bridge (Samhain Horror)

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4. Adam Howe Gator Bait (Comet Press)

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5. Matt Manochio Twelfth Krampus Night (Samhain Horror)

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Anthologies and Collections

1. Savage Beasts (Grey Matter Press)

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2. Todd Keisling Ugly Little Things – Volume One (Precipice Books)

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3. Tony Knighton Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia Cruelties (Crime Wave Press) 

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they rise

BOOK INFO

Length: 162 Pages

Publisher: Severed Press

Release Date: January 4, 2016

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review as part of the They Rise Blog Tour

I have always had a love/hate relationship with the ocean. Growing up, I loved going to the beach and one of my favorite places to visit or go to on field trips was the aquarium. I was always fascinated by the wildlife that lived in the water and for a majority of my life, I dreamed of growing up and becoming a marine biologist. As I got older that dream was still there and I began taking deep-sea fishing trips, which were always a thrill to me. Despite all of those positive memories and dreams of working in the ocean with the various animals that call the water home, I harbored a bit of a fear of the ocean. I don’t know if it was from watching Jaws or just one too many viewings of Shark Week, but I was convinced that it was only a matter of time until a shark attacked me. Even into my late teens  – the last time I really went into the ocean – I could be swimming or having a blast on a boogie board, but if a strand of seaweed brushed against my leg, I would tear ass out of the waves as fast as my legs would carry me. In retrospect, that was probably the worst thing I could have done if I was trying to avoid becoming some shark’s lunch. I always went back in the water after realizing none of the other swimmers were being ripped to shreds, but that fear was still there. Reading Hunter Shea’s They Rise brought those fears rushing back and also made me realize that maybe I had more to fear than just man-eating sharks.

They Rise opens with a scene of some older men out for an early morning fishing trip on the Atlantic Ocean. Just when it seems they won’t have any luck, one of the men hooks something huge on his line. What he reels in amazes his friends and the deckhand that assists them in landing the fish. As they stare in amazement at the alien looking fish, it begins to thrash and ends up stinging the deckhand, drenching his arm in blood. Their curiosity is shattered by the brutal attack and what they witness is something ripped straight from their nightmares.

Marine biologist Brad Whitley has studied chimaera fish for his entire life and is considered one of the foremost experts on the fish. So after the horrific attack on the fishing boat leaves a deckhand dead and one of the fish is captured, he is called in to examine the specimen and figure out what could have caused the attack. What Whit sees takes his breath away. The fish is identical to the ones he is used to studying, but is easily two feet bigger than the largest one ever recorded. Not to mention, the fish should not have appeared in this part of the Atlantic Ocean. They have a spine in front of their dorsal fin that unleashes a vicious toxin, but based on the grisly reports from the fishing boat, it is faster acting than anything Whit has seen before.

While Whit is on land looking for answers, his ex-wife Suzanne Merriweather is aboard the Porpoise IV studying clues about the cause behind rising global temperatures. Currently, her and her team are in the Atlantic investigating methane gas being released from vents in the ocean floor, something that could cause more damage than man-made pollution. Suzanne and her team get readouts showing a massive methane vent which is located smack dab in the region of the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Some of the methane being released is frozen from the prehistoric era, bubbling to the surface due to disturbances on the ocean floor. The crew of the Porpoise IV come face to face with these prehistoric horrors when the come to the rescue of a fishing trawler that was attacked by a swarm of chimaera fish. They witness the remnants of the carnage on the boat and once Suzanne lays eyes on the strange fish she knows she needs to reach out to her estranged ex.

Whit gets the texts from Suzanne and finds that his specimen is not the only one. These massive chimaeras are loose in the ocean and leaving a path of destruction and bloodshed in their wake. To make matters worse, the pictures Suzanne sends him shows these things are even bigger than the one he is studying, some rivaling the size of Great Whites. When the Porpoise IV heads out to study a large methane vent, they notice swarms of chimaeras pouring from the vent and realize they have a serious problem on their hands. Whit rents a fishing boat to head out and meet Suzanne and receives a distress call about the fish attacking the Porpoise IV. Facing death and destruction at every turn, the group must find a way to stop the chimaera fish once and for all or the entire world will be placed into chaos and the oceans will run red with blood.

While They Rise does take some liberties with the chimaera fish, part of what made this is a novel such a great read was that is grounded in reality. Shea takes a real-life fish and mixes in climate concerns to craft an original sea monster novella that feels like it could – with a little imagination –  actually happen. While we think of the ocean as something mundane, the fact remains that is as mysterious as any other possible location. Despite all of the advances in modern technology, less than five percent of the ocean has been explored. Who says there can’t be giant, blood-thirsty chimaera fish lurking in the deep, dark depths of the ocean?

I loved that a majority of the story takes place out on the open water. I feel like the ocean is a perfect setting for horror novels due to the sense of isolation it provides. Think about it. Even if you are facing unimaginable horrors, if you’re on land, you have a variety of escape options and tools at your disposal. They may not work, but you at least have some choices. Out on the ocean, there is nowhere to hide. Sure, you could be on the relative safety of a boat, but what happens if the boat is damaged or sinks? There is nowhere to hide and once you hit the water, you are in the domain of the monstrous creatures stalking you. There is no way to improvise weapons except for utilizing what little gear you thought to pack on the ship and there is no easy way to call in reinforcements.

Shea does an excellent job with portraying the attacks throughout the course of They Rise. The fish are introduced through a series of scenes where people on the ocean who are fishing and unaware of the recent release of these deadly monsters are suddenly thrust into a bloody and violent situation. These fish are ruthless and are able to destroy smaller ships with ease and are driven by their desire to feed.

The chimaera fish are terrifying despite not having razor-sharp teeth or appendages. They have tooth plates that are supposed to be used to crush shellfish, but when Shea grows them to unimaginable lengths, they are powerful enough to snap bones like toothpicks and flatten people like pancakes. Then there is its poisonous fin that injects a lethal poison that causes people to die in seconds in a truly gruesome fashion that is not for the squeamish. They are also tenacious hunters, once they have their sights locked on a boat and begin their attack, it isn’t enough to just hightail it the hell out of there. When the Porpoise IV was attacked, Suzanne later tells Whit that the fish pursued them for miles.

Hunter does a great job with his major characters, particularly Whit and Nestor Garza. Whit comes across as a bit arrogant at times, but he makes for an interesting main character. Although his expertise is the chimaera fish that are currently wreaking havoc in the ocean, he is a true leader who thinks outside the box in order to try to save everyone from the fish. We learn early on in They Rise that Whit has a drinking problem, though it is not clear if it was a result of a divorce from his wife Suzanne or something that has always been a part of his life. Nestor Garza is Whit’s right hand man on this study and they form a close bond in the short time they are together. He’s a retiree who helps out at the Seaquarium who helps out however he can. He mostly does it for the discounts he gets his family for the aquarium and to make his grandkids think he is a hero. Despite being a seemingly average guy, Nestor exudes a confidence that makes him likable. He has a connection for seemingly every situation and shows a surprising amount of courage in a truly horrific scenario that would leave most regular people frozen with fear. While Hunter does a great job with his main cast, some of the more minor characters tend to blend together.

Even with a few minor missteps, Shea’s They Rise is a white-knuckled thrill ride that is sure to delight horror fans looking for an entertaining and bloody sea monster story. One of Shea’s many strengths is the pacing of his novels and his talent for telling a great story. There are hardly any lulls in the action and once Hunter pulls you in, you are mesmerized by the world he has created. I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I loved the nod to his previous novel The Montauk Monster with the mentions of Plum Island research center. Anyone who has read any of Hunter’s previous books or has seen an episode of Monster Men knows he is one of the biggest horror fans around and his love and appreciation for horror always shines through in his writing. That passion is evident in the old school monster movie feel of They Rise and the adrenaline-pumping finale that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. They Rise is an absolute blast to read and an essential addition to the reading list of everyone who is fascinated and/or frightened by the possibility of what lurks in the dark, briny depths of the ocean!

2015 was a great year for Hunter Shea fans as he released three incredibly entertaining novels and it doesn’t appear he has any plans of slowing down in 2016. They Rise was the first of Hunter’s three planned releases for the year and is set to be followed by a new Samhain novella I Kill in Peace and the Pinnacle novel The Jersey Devil, which focuses on one of my all-time favorite cryptids. Needless to say, I will be devouring these books as soon as I get my hands on them!

Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this post for a chance at an awesome prize: a $50 Amazon Gift Card! All the details on how to enter and gain extra entries are listed in the “Giveaway” section of the review. Good luck!

Rating: 4/5 

LINKS

Hunter Shea Official Website

Severed Press Official Website

Purchase They Rise: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

They Rise tour graphic

Use these hashtags to help spread the word about They Rise! – #TheyRise  #HunterShea #HorroroftheSea #HookofaBook #SeaMonsters

They Rise Synopsis

Some call them ghost sharks, the oldest and strangest looking creatures in the sea. Marine biologist Brad Whitley has studied chimaera fish all his life. He thought he knew everything about them. He was wrong.

Warming ocean temperatures free legions of prehistoric chimaera fish from their methane ice suspended animation. Now, in a corner of the Bermuda Triangle, the ocean waters run red.

The 400 million year old massive killing machines know no mercy, destroying everything in their path. It will take Whitley, his climatologist ex-wife and the entire US Navy to stop them in the bloodiest battle ever seen on the high seas.

Praise for Hunter Shea

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

“Hunter Shea is a great writer, highly entertaining, and definitely in the upper echelon in the current horror scene. Many other writers mention either loving his work and/or having the man influence their own, and for just cause. His writing suits anyone with a taste for the dark and terrifying!” –Zakk at The Eyes of Madness/The Mouth of Madness Podcast

About Hunter Shea 

hunter-shea-photo

Hunter Shea is the product of a childhood weaned on The Night Stalker, The Twilight Zone and In Search Of. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself.

Publishers Weekly named The Montauk Monster one of the best reads of the summer in 2014, and his follow up novel, Hell Hole, was named best horror novel of the year on several prestigious horror sites. Cemetery Dance had this to say about his apocalyptic thriller, Tortures of the Damned – “A terrifying read that left me wanting more. I absolutely devoured this book!”

Hunter is an amateur cryptozoologist, having written wild, fictional tales about Bigfoot, The Montauk Monster, The Dover Demon and many new creatures to come. Copies of his books, The Montauk Monster and The Dover Demon, are currently on display in the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, ME.

He wrote his first novel with the express desire to work only with editor Don D’Auria at Dorchester (Leisure Horror). He submitted his novel to Don and only Don, unagented, placed on the slush pile. He is proof that dedicated writers can be rescued from no man’s land. He now works with Don, along with several other agents and publishers, having published over ten books in just four years.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light-hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, crytid and ghost hunters, directors and anyone else living in the horror lane.

Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to get Gray’s Papaya hot dogs when the craving hits. His daughters have also gotten the horror bug, assisting him with research, story ideas and illustrations that can be seen in magazines such as Dark Dossier.

You can follow his travails at www.huntershea.com, sign-up for his newsletter, or follow in on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card for joining this tour! Get extra entries for social media follows, but get extra extra entries for signing up for his newsletter and five extra entries if you review They Rise and send the link to Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjMx/?

Good luck!

 

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Hunter Shea, who recently released his excellent new novel The Dover Demon (review) through Samhain Horror. I loved Hunter’s unique approach to the famous cryptid sighting and the exploration of the “what happens after” aspect of paranormal experiences and I highly recommend this novel to horror fans and those who are fascinated by creepy, unexplained phenomena. Check out Hunter’s post below to hear about his own UFO experience. I have a huge interest in UFOs and aliens (despite them scaring the hell out of me), so I would like to thank Hunter for sharing his story with The Horror Bookshelf!

Before I turn over the blog to Hunter, I want to thank him and Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for having me on the tour. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour dates and enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a signed print copy of The Dover Demon!

Out of this World

By Hunter Shea, Author of The Dover Demon

the-dover-demon

I’ve never had a close encounter with a being from another world, but I did see something in the sky one night that deeply affected the way I view our place in the cosmos.

It was an early evening in the fall of 1987. My sister needed to be picked up from her job at Kids R Us at the mall. For some reason, three of us piled in the car to get her – my mother, my girlfriend (who is now my wife), and me. My mother drove, even though I was 19 and had my own car. We went to the top of the small parking garage and waited for sis to come out. It had been a nice day, giving way to a clear night.

I got out of the car to get some air, staring at the headlights of passing cars on the New York State Thruway behind us. Suddenly, cars started to slow down, pulling over to the shoulder. First it was one, then another, then several that were going in the opposite direction. People got out of their cars, all of them looking at the sky.

My first thought was, what the hell are they looking at? I craned my neck back to see what all the fuss was about. It couldn’t be a blimp. They flew over all the time. What I saw knocked the breath from my lungs.

In the middle of a star-filled sky was a huge black mass, slowly moving overhead. There were very bright lights on the edges of the mass, solid orbs emitting a white/yellow glow. I could track its movement by watching stars disappear behind it while others reappeared as it hovered to the south. Its size was breathtaking. I know people always use the football field analysis when they try to describe things like this. For my money, I would say it was roughly the size of two baseball fields.

The most terrifying part is that it didn’t make a single sound.

When my sister got to the car, she joined all of us as staring at this silent, floating city. She immediately started crying, begging for us to leave and just get home. My mother, girlfriend, and I were too entranced to move. We watched it progress down the highway, heading for New York City.

Eventually, we got in the car, keeping it in our sights. By the time we got to my house, the craft was turning towards New Jersey. Then the incredible entered the realm of the fantastical. Whatever it was exploded with light, zooming toward the heavens without making a single sound until it disappeared. My heart raced so hard, I could barely breathe. We looked at each other, dumbfounded. Was that what we think it was?

It made the paper the next day. Thousands of people witnessed the same thing. The official explanation – lightweight planes flying in formation. How those planes blacked out the stars between them could never be explained.

Needless to say, my passing interest in UFOs went into overdrive. I didn’t go full on conspiracy theorist, but I have educated myself as much as possible to all the potentialities. I do know one thing. We are not the only creatures in this vast universe. The question now is, what did we see that night? What have millions of people witnessed in the skies over the past 70 years, if not more?

In the words of the post on Fox Mulder’s wall – I WANT TO BELIEVE.

###

Purchase The Dover Demon: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

Dover Demon tour logo

Follow along the tour using the hashtags #TheDoverDemon #HunterSheaLovesCryptids #Monsters #Cryptozoology #cryptids

Hunter-loren-museum

A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon. 

Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link: http://huntershea.com/2015/08/30/the-dover-demon-raises-his-round-little-head-cryptid-novel-release-day/

The Dover Demon Info and Synopsis

  • File Size: 1032 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2015

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

About Hunter Shea 

hunter-shea-photo

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk MonsterTortures of the Damned, Sinister EntityForest of ShadowsSwamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal,  and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors, and anyone else living in the horror lane.

He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaways

On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIx/?

the-dover-demon

BOOK INFO

Length: 242 Pages

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher: Samhain Horror

Review copy provided as part of The Dover Demon Blog Tour

2015 has been an exciting and busy year for Hunter Shea, who I am sure has to be part machine based on his crazy schedule! He has already released two great novels this year, the unique apocalyptic thriller Tortures of the Damned and the bone-chilling third novel of his Jessica Backman series Island of the Forbidden. This time around, Hunter tackles another famous cryptid in The Dover Demon.

Over a two night period in 1977, eyewitnesses in the rural town of Dover, Massachusetts reported seeing a mysterious and terrifying creature that defied any earthly explanation. The stories of a mysterious creature referred to as the Dover Demon filled cryptid hunters and tourists with wonder and they arrived in the town of Dover in droves, seeking to catch a glimpse of the legendary creature with their own eyes. But for Sam, his best friend Tank and their girlfriends Kelly and Stephanie, that two night period was more terrifying than exciting. On their way home from a double date at the movies on one of those fateful nights in 1977, they had their own encounter with the creature known as the Dover Demon. What they saw shattered their perception of reality and they vowed to never speak of it again and despite their best efforts to leave that experience in their past, that night changed their lives forever.

Sam Brogna, now in his fifties, owns a comic store and is married to Lacy, a businesswoman who is constantly trying to get him to go back to the corporate world he left behind to spend more time with his son, Nicky. Their marriage seems average, but tensions simmer below the surface as she judges her success on his and is embarrassed of his new career. However, the store helped Sam forge a strong bond with his son based on their mutual love of comic books and by working together daily in the store. Sam is still best friend with Tank Clay, who ended up marrying his high school sweetheart Stephanie. Tank and Sam used to get into trouble together as teenagers, but now the extent of their troublemaking involves them sneaking biscuits and gravy at the comic store and fearing the tongue lashing they may get from their wives. Tank followed in Sam’s footsteps by leaving his job as a high-powered CEO to chase his dream of being an archaeologist.

Despite Sam’s desire to move past his encounter with the Dover Demon, he sells copies of a book about the creature in his shop. Most of the townspeople hate the fact that outsiders flock to their town searching for the Dover Demon, but Sam almost seems proud that his comic book store is the one place in town that promotes the legend and harbors an interest in cryptids. His life seems to be perfect until a betrayal sends his life into a tailspin that causes him to run into his high school girlfriend Kelly Weathers.

Kelly has tried to forget that fateful night back in the ’70s, but the experience has rattled her so badly she has started drinking heavily and developed a bit of an obsession with Dover Demon sightings. She is afraid of the creature and despite living in a constant state of paranoia, she is determined to uncover the truth about what her and her friends saw all those years ago.

Sam’s son Nicky develops an interest in the Dover Demon and sets up a Google alert about the mysterious creature that lurks in the woods of Dover and that is when he stumbles across a new sighting, the first one in over 40 years. They were a series of blog posts from a man known only as Lando Solo, who Nicky recognizes as the man from his father’s comic shop that was asking questions about the Dover Demon a few days ago. The posts detail his trip to Dover and a sighting of the creature during a massive snowstorm a little after Thanksgiving. No one in town believes his story, so he turned to his blog in attempt to get the word out. The posts fascinate Nicky and inspire him, his best friend Roy and his sister Christine to go to the place of the sighting in an attempt to spot the Dover Demon for themselves.

Kelly also stumbles upon Lando’s blog posts and it startles her. She has been investigating any story that seems like it could be connected to the thing her and her friends saw years ago and she begins to think there is a pattern, that the creature her and her friends encountered has been appearing more frequently. These are all just suspicions she has until she reviews her security cameras footage from the previous night. It is then she discovers someone or something has left footprints in a perfect circle around her home. It was as if something was dropped from the sky, walked around her home and then vanished into thin air. She is unable to determine what left the tracks, but when she watches the footage from inside her home, she makes a shocking discovery that will change the lives of her and her friends. I don’t want to diminish the thrill that comes with reading this scene for readers, but I will say that while I was writing my notes for this review, I tagged this page with the words “nightmare fuel”. It was a truly terrifying scene that stuck with me even after I finished The Dover Demon and will probably pop up in my nightmares for the next several months.

Kelly shares her research with Sam, Tank and Stephanie in an attempt to warn them that the creature they saw back in 1977 may be coming back for them. They refuse to believe in Kelly’s theories until Nicky and Christine go missing after searching for the creature themselves. Fearing the worst, the four old friends set out to rescue Nicky and Christine and are plunged into a reality bending fight for survival.

What initially scared me the most about reading this book was the Dover Demon’s resemblance to an alien. As a horror fan, I pride myself on not being scared of much, but the stories surrounding aliens and particularly this type, scares me more than just about anything. I grew up reading about cryptids of all forms and the story surrounding the Dover Demon stuck with me through the years based on the unusual facts that make it stand out from other sightings.

The setting and atmosphere that Hunter creates in The Dover Demon is perfect and adds a creepy factor to the story. The small town setting and relative seclusion really helps lend itself to this story. I live in a small town and I couldn’t help but imagine this story taking place right in my back yard, which made it even more frightening.

I really loved Hunter’s take on the Dover Demon as well. I picked up this novel expecting a straightforward alien novel, which would have been fine by me, but ended up being treated to something different and original. Hunter does make some allusions to the Dover Demon being an alien of some sort in the early chapters of the book, but as the story goes on, the truth behind what the Dover Demon is becomes a little bit murkier. I personally liked the ambiguity that surrounds the creature and thought Hunter did an excellent job of staying true to the events that inspired the novel while putting his own terrifying spin on it.

Also as a fan of creepy, unexplained mysteries and stories, I loved the approach Hunter took with his characters. Often times with cryptid sightings or other unexplained phenomena, we hear the stories about the sighting and once the creature is gone or the phenomena is over, that is the last you hear about these people and the situations they have gone through. Hunter sets his story in the aftermath of the Dover Demon sightings which is an interesting style choice. We learn about the groups interactions with the Dover Demon through brief flashbacks interspersed throughout the story. I thought it was awesome that Hunter decided to dig explore the “what happens after” aspect of paranormal sightings. We learn about the characters immediate reactions to seeing the creature, but the most interesting parts of the story is seeing how that fleeting moment changed them forever. Each character handles the aftermath differently – Kelly spirals into paranoia and alcohol dependence, Tank pushes it from his memory but subtly searches for answers by becoming an archaeologist, Stephanie blocks it out completely and Sam handles it in a unique way that I don’t want to spoil for readers. Even when the Dover Demon returns after a nearly 40 year absence, the characters are still undergoing a process of moving on and understanding. They take their experiences from years ago and approach the situation from a different perspective. They are older and have seen this creature before, so they use what little knowledge they have from their personal experience to deal with the creatures.

It is no secret that I love Hunter’s work and The Dover Demon is another excellent entry to his impressive collection of releases. The thing that I love most about Hunter’s books is his obvious love and passion for the subjects he writes about. If you read any of his interviews or watch his great podcast Monster Men with Jack Campisi, you will learn that Hunter is a huge fan of all things horror and the unexplained. As someone who shares similar interests, it is pretty cool to read a book that seems tailor-made for those who are fascinated with the unexplained. There were a few instances where I was confused after the group encounters the Dover Demon the second time around, but it didn’t significantly impact my enjoyment of the story. If you are a fan of cryptids, aliens or just enjoy a good story that will scare the hell out of you, be sure to squeeze The Dover Demon into your Halloween reading list!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for your chance to win a signed copy of this awesome book!

Rating: 4.5/5

LINKS

Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Samhain Horror Official Website

Purchase The Dover Demon: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samhain or your favorite bookstore!

Dover Demon tour logo

Follow along the tour using the hashtags #TheDoverDemon #HunterSheaLovesCryptids #Monsters #Cryptozoology #cryptids

Hunter-loren-museum

A trip Hunter Shea made to the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine two years ago sparked the idea for THE DOVER DEMON. While he was there, he met famed cryptozoologist, Loren Coleman and talked about creatures he’s personally investigated. It turns out, he was the man on the scene in Dover, MA in the late 70s when the uber strange biped was spotted by several people over the course of two nights in April, Hunter reported. He also gave it its name, Dover Demon. 

Now, Hunter’s fictional world of The Dover Demon has been published as a novel and he was able to go back to the museum of cryptids in August and have a launch party for the book with Loren Coleman! To read more about that and see photos, head over to his site via this link: http://huntershea.com/2015/08/30/the-dover-demon-raises-his-round-little-head-cryptid-novel-release-day/

 

The Dover Demon Info and Synopsis

  • File Size: 1032 KB
  • Print Length: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd. (September 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: September 1, 2015

The Dover Demon is real…and it has returned.

In 1977, Sam Brogna and his friends came upon a terrifying, alien creature on a deserted country road. What they witnessed was so bizarre, so chilling, they swore their silence. But their lives were changed forever.

Decades later, the town of Dover has been hit by a massive blizzard. Sam’s son, Nicky, is drawn to search for the infamous cryptid, only to disappear into the bowels of a secret underground lair. The Dover Demon is far deadlier than anyone could have believed. And there are many of them. Can Sam and his reunited friends rescue Nicky and battle a race of creatures so powerful, so sinister, that history itself has been shaped by their secretive presence?

Praise for Hunter Shea

This wholly enthralling hulk of a summer beach read is redolent of sunscreen and nostalgia, recalling mass market horror tales of yore by John Saul, Dean Koontz, and Peter Benchley.” — Publishers Weekly — Voted one of the best reads of summer, on The Montauk Monster

“Bloody good read!  This guy knows his monsters!”- Eric S Brown, author of Bigfoot War and Boggy Creek: The Legend is True, on Swamp Monster Massacre

 

About Hunter Shea 

hunter-shea-photo

Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk MonsterTortures of the Damned, Sinister EntityForest of ShadowsSwamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal,  and The Dover Demon. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the Cemetery Dance anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. He’s currently working on or completed a few more manuscripts set to come.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

Hunter is proud to be be one half of the Monster Men video podcast, along with his partner in crime, Jack Campisi. It is one of the most watched horror video podcasts in the world. Monster Men is a light hearted approach to dark subjects. Hunter and Jack explore real life hauntings, monsters, movies, books and everything under the horror sun. They often interview authors, cryptid and ghost hunters, directors, and anyone else living in the horror lane.

He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com or find him on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Giveaways

On this tour, win one signed print copy of The Dover Demon if you are in the U.S.! Just sign-up at the Rafflecopter link below:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIx/?

 

TOTD

BOOK INFO

Publisher: Kensington/Pinnacle

Length: 352 Pages

Release Date: July 28, 2015

Review copy provided as part of the Tortures of the Damned blog tour

It is no secret to those of you who have been following the blog since the beginning that I am a huge fan of Hunter Shea’s work. I first got into his work through The Montauk Monster which was a hell of a read and worked my way through his catalog from there. One thing I have discovered through reading all of Hunter’s works is that he is a truly gifted storyteller. His novels are always action packed and you can tell they are written by someone with a great love and appreciation of the genre. Hunter has already released one fantastic novel this year, Island of the Forbidden, so I was eagerly awaiting the release of this one. Hunter has tackled a variety of cryptids and ghosts in his past work, so when I heard he was writing an apocalyptic novel, it quickly shot to the top of the list of my most anticipated horror novels of the year.

Hunter Shea’s Tortures of the Damned focuses on the Padilla family and their neighbors Buck and Alexiana DeCarlo following a stunning attack on Yonkers. Explosions and fires rip through the city and an EMP blast fries all the electronics in the area plunging the city into chaos. Daniel Padilla is trapped in the city desperately trying to make it home to his wife and four kids when the events start to take place and witnesses the pandemonium first hand. People are running through the streets, trampling each other with no regard for anyone’s safety but their own. At a nearby racetrack where the oldest Padilla sibling – Rey – works, animals go insane as a strange noxious smoke slowly creeps throughout the grounds that points to a possible chemical attack. The smoke seems to whip the race horses into a frenzy and they go from being relatively docile creatures to bloodthirsty war machines that rip everything in their paths to shreds. Rey rescues his crush Dakota from the carnage at the racetrack and they battle their way through the rapidly spreading smoke to arrive at the Padilla household.

Once everyone makes it back to the house, their neighbor Buck Clark leads them to safety. Buck is a bit of a survivalist who built and stocked an emergency bomb shelter below his home for himself, his girlfriend Alexiana, and the Padilla family following the first terrorist attacks in New York City. The shelter has all the supplies they could ever need – jugs of water, canned goods and weapons. Though they are comfortable down there for a long period of time, they begin to grow restless when days go by without any information that may tell them if it is safe to go out or not. Buck and Daniel finally make the difficult choice to leave the shelter in search of medicine for Rey and Dakota, who are severely ill due to their exposure to the chemical clouds that surrounded them at the racetrack.

While Buck and Dan are exploring what is left of the neighborhood, rats begin pouring out of the sewers to attack them and chase them back to the shelter. The rats try to break down doors even if it means their death and this forces the group out of the safety of their shelter. Forced to abandon almost all of their supplies and with nowhere to go, the group decides to scour the city in search of help and possibly answers. Along the way they must fight a gauntlet of crazed animals and vicious survivors that will test the limits of what they can endure.

Tortures of the Damned is a great read if you are a horror fan and looking for something a bit different in your apocalyptic fiction. I am used to zombies, vampires or some other mythical creature causing the downfall of mankind and hunting the survivors that are left, but Hunter offers up some unique adversaries for the Padilla’s and their friends to face. The group goes head to head with bloodthirsty race horses that tear people to shreds, hawks that are not afraid to carry people off into the sky and a host of other creatures. Even lovable family pets that are normally seen as cute and harmless morph into feral killers and the savagery they display is unreal!

I also loved the isolated feel Hunter was able to cultivate throughout the course of the novel. Although Yonkers was once a thriving urban area, the group is shocked to find everything is like a ghost town when they emerge from their bunker. The survivors are few and far between and there is just a sense of despair that hangs over the landscape. This shift in the portrayal of the city and the approach of having the animals be a large threat were awesome. Granted the time frame is not nearly long enough, but the way the setting was described made me think of a hardcore horror version of that National Geographic special “Life After People”.

The characters of the book were well done as well. I like that Hunter chose to keep the focus fairly small. While there is a host of minor characters that pop up throughout the course of the novel, most of the focus stays on the Padilla’s and their neighbors. A lot of times an apocalyptic novel can lose its emotional impact by introducing too many characters that prevent the reader from establishing a connection with them, but that doesn’t happen here. The group of the Padilla’s, Buck, Alexiana and Dakota start off innocent but throughout the course of the novel we see them start to lose that innocence and revert to a more primitive mindset hell-bent on survival even if it costs them their lives. Even as they develop rougher personalities, you still can’t help but root for them to survive.

All of the characters bring something to the group and it is hard to choose a favorite, but if there was a character that surprised me the most, it would have to be Max. At the time of the apocalypse, 14-year-old Max is at a critical point in his young life. He is beginning to enter a rebellious phase and you would think the devastation would get the best of him, but he is remarkably well suited for this new world and shows very little fear. He is constantly coming to the rescue of the adults in the group and seems to thrive off the adrenaline he gets from fighting back against the animals.

The pacing and structure of the novel are absolutely perfect in my opinion. I tore through this novel in about two sittings because Hunter utilizes short, punchy chapters that grabbed my attention.  I frequently found myself saying “Okay, I think I can squeeze in another chapter…” and having that turn into about 20. I also liked that the cause of the apocalypse is left ambiguous, with he reader gleaning bits and pieces of information through the eyes of the scarce other survivors and their assumptions.

I will warn you that this book is pretty bleak. There were quite a few moments where I was really pulling for this group of survivors and breathing a sigh of relief when they had small triumphs, only to get sucker punched right in the gut not long after. The group goes through some pretty heavy situations that will have you on the edge of your seat, but that is what helps make Tortures of the Damned such a great read.

Tortures of the Damned definitely stands out as one of the best novels I have read this year and one I would definitely recommend to anyone who has an interest in horror and apocalyptic stories. It is out now through Kensington/Pinnacle, so be sure to grab a copy from any of the links provided below or your local bookstore. Oh and if you happen to be reading this Hunter, PLEASE tell me there are more stories to tell in the Tortures of the Damned universe!

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post for a chance to win a signed copy of a Hunter Shea book of your choice (or e-book) and a bookmark, courtesy of Hunter Shea and Hook of a Book Media & Publicity!

Rating: 5/5

LINKS

Hunter Shea’s Official Website

Kensington/Pinnacle Official Website

Purchase Tortures of the Damned: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore!

Tortures of the Damned tour logo

Hunter Shea is back again with a Pinnacle/Kensington paperback following his smash hit of The Montauk Monster last summer. This time the world could be ending!

Follow along using the hashtags: #TorturesoftheDamned #Apocalypse #RunforYourLife

Tortures of the Damned Info and Synopsis

Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Pinnacle (July 28, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0786034777

ISBN-13: 978-0786034772

SHOCK…
First, the electricity goes—plunging the east coast in darkness after a devastating nuclear attack. Millions panic. Millions die. They are the lucky ones. 
 
AFTER SHOCK…
Next, the chemical weapons take effect—killing or contaminating everything alive. Except a handful of survivors in a bomb shelter. They are the damned.
 
HELL IS FOR HUMANS
Then, the real nightmare begins. Hordes of rats force two terrified families out of their shelter—and into the savage streets of an apocalytic wasteland. They are not alone. Vicious, chemical-crazed animals hunt in packs. Dogs tear flesh, cats draw blood, horses crush bone. Roaming gangs of the sick and dying are barely recognizable as human. These are the times that try men’s souls. These are the tortures that tear families apart. This is hell on earth. The rules are simple: Kill or die.

Praise for Hunter Shea

“A lot of splattery fun.Publishers Weekly

 
 “Harrowing, bloodsoaked.” —Jonathan Janz, Author of The Nightmare Girl
 
“Frightening, gripping.”—Night Owl Reviews

“Old school horror.” —Jonathan Maberry,  New York Times bestselling author

About Hunter Shea

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Hunter Shea is the author of the novels The Montauk Monster, Sinister Entity, Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, and Evil Eternal. His stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales and the Cemetery Dance anthology,  Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror.

His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on. He lives in New York with his family and vindictive cat. He waits with Biblical patience for the Mets to win a World Series. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com.

Giveaway!

One signed book from Hunter Shea of winner’s choice (or e-book) and a bookmark

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/MjMxYWEzMGI1ZDE2MGYyYTgzYjk4NzVhYzhmMTdmOjIw/?

Today I am excited to welcome one of my all-time favorite horror writers, Hunter Shea, to The Horror Bookshelf for an interview to celebrate the release of his latest novel Island of the Forbidden (review). We talk about Monster Men, the books in the Jessica Backman series, cryptids, new releases and a lot of other cool stuff!  Also, if you have read any of the books, Hunter reveals how Island of the Forbidden almost took a much different path.

Be sure to enter the blog tour giveaway following the interview for a chance to win one signed copies of Hunter’s previous novels or an e-book! A huge thanks to Hunter for answering my questions and to Erin Al-Mehairi of Hook of a Book Media & Publicity for inviting me to participate on this blog tour!

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Aside from being a huge fan of your books, I also am a pretty avid follower of your Youtube podcast Monster Men. You and Jack do an excellent job introducing viewers to cool new books, movies and other horror related stuff. How did the idea for the show come about and do you guys have anything special coming up this year?

Jack and I used to work together and bonded over our passion for horror movies and books. When my first book was going to be published in 2011 (Forest of Shadows), we created Monster Men to help promote it. As you can see, it’s gone well beyond the scope of just promoting a single book. We’ve filmed close to 80 episodes now and have branched out into interviewing authors, cryptozoologists and even doing a ghost hunt in a cemetery. In 2015, we’re going to do much more interviews and get out in the field to show our viewers some truly spooky places.

Island of the Forbidden is the fourth story featuring Jessica Backman. Though they can be read as standalone works, did you ever imagine writing a series when you first wrote Forest of Shadows or did it happen organically?

This was never intended to be a series. When I ended Forest of Shadows, I did so pretty definitively. When Samhain asked for a third book, I got to thinking, what would become of a little girl who lived through what Jessica did in Alaska? How would that impact the course of her life? Sinister Entity was born from those questions. And from there, more questions arose. I mean, if someone can truly interact with the dead the way she and Eddie do, they’re not going to be normal, no matter how hard they try. I’m fascinated with the way our decisions alter the course of our lives. For me, as long as Jessica and Eddie have their abilities, I’m going to keep writing about them and watch them evolve.

Jessica is the only character that appears in all of the books, but Eddie’s story also plays a major role in Sinister Entity and Island of the Forbidden. How did you get the inspiration to incorporate a character like Eddie?

I was reading about a famous spiritualist, D.D. Home. He was the only psychic/spiritualist to have confounded the professional debunkers. I get the impression that if psychic powers are real, Home was our proof. Witnesses even watched him levitate out a multi-story window and float back in another. Accounts of what he was able to do will raise the hair on your arms. I started to think, what if these abilities are genetic? Would they wax and wane with each successive generation? Eddie in the books is a direct descendant of D.D. Home, a guy who just may be equal to the greatest spiritualist the world has ever seen. If he can communicate with the dead as easily as we do the living, imagine what would ensue if he somehow came into contact with Jessica, who unwittingly draws the dead to her and can banish them to a place neither of them can see? Talk about power couples, they’re it.

I know writers tend to become attached to their characters, so was it difficult for you to place Jessica and Eddie in dangerous situations?

Not at all. In fact, it’s fun. That’s when their true personalities come out. And I’m never sure what I’m going to do with them in the end. I realized midway through Island of the Forbidden that my subconscious was setting things up to kill Jessica. I had to pull back a bit and move the story a little to the left. Ormsby Island is a very dangerous place for people like Jessica and Eddie. They’re just two broken people surrounded by over 100 royally pissed off spirits. It was easy to imagine them being drawn under to a place of no return. But that would have been too easy. The power in the story is seeing how they face what is an unimaginable situation without buckling under.

Ormsby Island is a perfect setting for a ghost story. It has a dark history that has made it a legend among the locals in the novel and is completely cut off from the outside world. The description of the island and the house definitely gave me the chills! Was there any real world inspiration behind Ormsby Island?

When I set out to write the book, I wanted Jessica and Eddie to have put themselves in a kind of forced isolation – cutting themselves off from friends and family, even ignoring the pleading of the dead. For them at that moment, it seemed like the safe place to be. Now, let’s draw them to a location that is physically isolated. All possible lifelines are utterly cut off. If you’re like Jessica who likes to profess that she has no fear, that’s going to be thrown out the window in short order. Through that isolation comes a realization that you need to be a part of something larger than yourself – if you can survive.

What I like about the books in the series is that it shows a very realistic portrayal of how the events of the books would impact the characters. It seems like with each situation they find themselves in, Jessica and Eddie find themselves questioning their skills as well as themselves. Was that an important element for you while you were writing the books, to show that journey?

Exactly! That’s the impetus that compels me to write about them. The ghosts and hauntings are secondary. I want to explore the real impact interacting so closely with the dead can have on the living. I really don’t think it’s like the guys in a show like Ghost Adventures who seem to try to draw spirits into a bar brawl, then pick up and leave, moving on to the next haunted location as if nothing happened. To see beyond the veil has to rock you to your core. It would change you in an instant. From that point on, a conventional life is going to be pretty out of reach. Jessica and Eddie’s journey is what the whole series is about. The fact that I can add some scares along the way is gravy.

Eddie and Jessica both have a very unique approach to how they handle the situations they encounter in the books. How do you think their strengths benefit each other?

They’re the embodiment of yin and yang. Their personalities clash, but that’s good. Jessica is brash, impetuous, defiant, wielding powers that she has no control over. Eddie in introspective, reticent, but braver than he thinks he is. He knows every nook and cranny of his abilities, thanks to his stint with the Rhine Research Center (an actual psychical research facility near Duke University). Alone, each will eventually step into something they can’t get out of. Together, by feeding off one another, they can succeed against impossible odds. They need each other more than they care to admit.

A few of your books feature cryptids (The Montauk Monster, Swamp Monster Massacre) and you talk about your interest in them quite a bit. What is your favorite, least recognized cryptid? How did your interest in cryptids and the paranormal begin?

I find myself becoming more and more entranced by the world of cryptozoology. I’ve always been a huge monster fan – hence the Monster Men – but imagine if some of those monsters are real? And living close by? I get goosebumps just thinking about it. One of my favorites has become The Dover Demon, so much so that I wrote a book about it that will come out in the fall of 2015. Is it an alien or an earthbound creature? The veracity of the witnesses is what makes it so intriguing. I owe huge thanks to Loren Coleman, cryptozoologist and owner of the International Cryptozoology Museum, for getting me hooked on The Dover Demon. It’s a really strange and chilling creature. We’re talking about what people today would call a gray alien years before it became an iconic image.

What is a typical day of writing like for you?

On weekdays, I try to get in an hour or so a night, after work and dinner and hanging out with the family. On weekends, like right now when I’m answering your awesome questions, I’ll get a few hours in in the morning. The key is to just keep moving forward. You’re not always going to hit the goal you set for the day, but that’s all right. If I get in 250 words instead of 1,000, so be it. I know I’m going to have another day down the line where my fingers are flying over the keyboard.

What drew you into the world of horror and what is your favorite thing about the genre?

My father used to watch horror and scifi movies with me when I was a kid barely tall enough to turn the knob on a door. We watched all of the Universal monster movies, then the nuclear powered beasts of the 50s, and the straight up terrifying tales of the 70s. The odd thing was, I wasn’t scared. I loved watching them! Then he introduced me to this little known guy (at the time) called Stephen King and that was it. Stick in the fork, I was done. Horror hasn’t left my side since I was about 5. I’m a little jaded now, and it takes a lot to freak me out, but man, when something does, it’s like the greatest high ever. The movie Sinister did that to me most recently. It’s harder with books, I think, because I know how the sausage is made.

What horror novel has had the biggest impact on you as a writer and who are some of your favorite current writers?

Stephen King’s Night Shift was my first ever horror read, and I can honestly say it shaped who I was to become. To me, that is the perfect short story collection. There are so many modern horror writers doing amazing work, and some of them don’t get the recognition they deserve. Here are some of my favorites: Tim Lebbon, Brian Keene, Jonathan Janz, Jack Ketchum, Brian Moreland, Joe Lansdale, Mary SanGiovanni, David Bernstein, Keith Rommel, Nick Cutter. I could go on and on. Hollywood, wake up! You want to make great movies? Read a book by one of these guys, and lady.

If you could choose any writer to collaborate with, who would you choose and why?

I’ve talked to Jonathan Janz about writing something together. We just need the time. I think we have a similar style and definitely have a lot of the same passions. Most importantly, we get along and really like and respect one another. Without that, I don’t think it’s possible to collaborate. We could create something truly dark and disturbing together. I’ve also been talking to Keith Rommel about a joint project. He’s just a great guy and such an intuitive writer. I’d create the monsters and he’d dive into the psyche of our characters.

What other stories are you currently working on?

I’m working on a new cryptid novel for Pinnacle. If all goes well, it should come out in 2016. I’m also putting the touches on a very nasty little novella for Samhain. Once summer hits, I have an idea for a Bigfoot book that’s never been explored before. I can’t wait to start that. I’m also contemplating self publishing a middle grade horror series. The first book is already written and I’m going to talk to a close friend about doing some illustrations. Fingers crossed.

Thanks for stopping by The Horror Bookshelf Hunter, I am definitely excited to read your other releases this year!

Thank you so much for having me and for your wonderful reviews of my books!

Island of the forbidden tour logo

Giveaway

Enter to win one of five Hunter Shea books being given away! Two signed copies of Montauk Monster, one signed copy of Sinister Entity, and two e-books of choice of his titles are up for grabs! One book to each winner, given in order of random drawing. Enter to win at the Rafflecopter link. Must use valid email that winners can be contacted by. Print books are U.S. residents only. Contest ends Feb. 28, 2015. Any questions, contact Erin Al-Mehairi, Publicist, at hookofabook@hotmail.com.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/231aa30b17/?

About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the author of paranormal and horror novels Forest of Shadows, Swamp Monster Massacre, Evil Eternal, Sinister Entity, Hell Hole and Island of the Forbidden, which are all published by Samhain Horror.

The June 3, 2014 release of his horrifying thriller Montauk Monster was published by Kensington/Pinnacle. His second Kensington novel, Tortures of the Damned, will be published later this year.

He has also written a short story to be read prior to Sinister Entity, called The Graveyard Speaks (it’s free, go download!), and a book of stories called Asylum Scrawls.

His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including Dark Moon Digest, Morpheus Tales, and the upcoming anthology, Shocklines : Fresh Voices in Terror. His obsession with all things horrific has led him to real life exploration of the paranormal, interviews with exorcists, and other things that would keep most people awake with the lights on.

He is also half of the two men show, Monster Men, which is a video podcast that takes a fun look at the world of horror. You can read about his latest travails and communicate with him at www.huntershea.com, on Twitter @HunterShea1, Facebook fan page at Hunter Shea or the Monster Men 13 channel on YouTube.

Raves for Hunter Shea

Forest of Shadows

“A frightening, gripping story that left me too frightened to sleep with the lights off. This novel scared the hell out of me and it is definitely a creepy ghost story I won’t soon forget.” —Night Owl Reviews

Sinister Entity

“This is the real deal. The fear is palpable. Horror novels don’t get much better than this.” —Literal Remains

“. . .Culminates in a climactic showdown between human and spirit that keeps you glued to the pages!” —Horror Novel Reviews

Evil Eternal

“Hunter Shea has crafted another knockout. At turns epic and intimate, both savage and elegant. . .a harrowing, blood-soaked nightmare.” –Jonathan Janz, author of The Sorrows

Swamp Monster Massacre

“If you’re craving an old-school creature-feature that has excessive gore. . .B-horror movie fans rejoice, Hunter Shea is here to bring you the ultimate tale of terror!” —Horror Novel Reviews